I watched a small portion of the testimony of James Comey on June 8. I have also read many of the numerous articles written about the hearing that came out almost immediately after the event. I am not a fan of instant responses to such occurrences. But this hearing begs for a response.
All I can think is the behavior of all involved is unacceptable. I almost said abnormal. But I believe this kind of behavior is all too normal in our present-day world.
Although James Comey was testifying, it is clear President Donald Trump was the subject of the hearing. We hear he met with Mr. Comey several times to request he alter the FBI investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He did not ask that the FBI run a clean, judicious investigation.
He asked Comey to rein in the investigation. His reasoning was that Mr. Flynn is basically a good guy, and he should not have to endure the investigation and possible consequences. Could it also be true Mr. Trump did not want the embarrassment of having one of his appointees, although fired, brought up on charges?
And then there is Mr. Comey. His fortunes of late have been all over the place. He has been hailed as a hero and denigrated as a self-serving political hack. And I do not believe he did himself any favors throughout this hearing.
While his answers were direct and seemingly forthright, his responses sometimes defied explanation. Why did he not confront the president when asked to do things he felt were wrong by simply saying to the president he would not do them?
Why did he not tell the president he would not comply when he found himself alone with the president? Why did Mr. Comey not simply get up and leave?
He says he does not know except to say he did not know what to do.
Mr. Comey seems to be fairly accomplished. One does not become director of the FBI without a certain level of courage.
If he feared the office of the president, at least after the first incident, Mr. Comey could have confided in a trusted associate to either remain at his side or ready to accept a phone call should Mr. Comey need backup.
And if Mr. Comey was afraid to share sensitive information, where was that fear when he chose to leak select information to let people know what was going on so he could keep ahead of the situation?
And let us talk about the committee.
One prime example of the posturing that went on during the hearing came from Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Mr. McCain made and re-made a barely plausible argument that Senate Democrats were unwilling to hold Hillary Clinton to the same standards as they were expecting from President Trump.
(Never mind, as Mr. Comey attempted to argue repeatedly, that the Clinton investigation was concluded, and no charges were advised, but that the Russian collusion investigation is ongoing.)
No one won in this situation, especially the American people. And it is a reminder just how far our political system has deteriorated. James Comey was revealed as ineffectual, Mr. Trump as dishonest and members of Congress as incapable political hacks.
We deserve better. We deserve appointed officials who are willing to meet their basic obligations to their office.
We deserve political leaders who are willing to ask tough questions and make tough decisions. And we deserve a president who rises above his own self-interest.
Jim Matthews is a longtime resident of Greenfield. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.